Criterion Sunday 354: Clean, Shaven (1993)

I remember checking this out after Peter Greene’s memorable turn as Zed in Pulp Fiction (1994). It’s a film he made with first-time director Lodge Kerrigan over a couple of years in the early-90s, due to a lack of budget for the production, and to a certain extent that shows in the stripped-back mise en scène. The film very much harnesses these monetary setbacks into the feel of the film, from the grittiness of its working class small town settings to the graininess of the image, and the texture of Greene’s feverish performance as a schizophrenic man (also called Peter) recently released from hospital, looking for his daughter. The film makes all sorts of implications that he may be a dangerous child killer, but never shows any direct evidence of this, and at least part of what it’s trying to do is suggest that perhaps those with schizophrenia are not killers, somewhat against the tangent of most pop culture. That said, he’s clearly a danger at least to himself, and his own interior world is evoked through the soundtrack, all buzzing radios and white noise, accompanied by flashes of old photographs, some kind of kinesthetic attempt to get inside Peter’s brain. There are moments of real gruesome horror that make you flinch, and a message that the cop (Robert Albert) — whose hunt is intercut with Peter’s own search for his daughter — may be the really dangerous one here, as both are fairly unpleasant, single-mindedly driven people. It’s a fine debut, the first in Kerrigan’s small filmography dealing with outsiders.

NB: The Criterion Collection date on this release is 1994, though it was made available publicly in 1993 according to Wikipedia.


FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director/Writer Lodge Kerrigan; Cinematographer Teodoro Maniaci; Starring Peter Greene, Robert Albert; Length 79 minutes.

Seen at home (DVD), London, Saturday 19 September 2020 (and earlier on VHS at home, Wellington, in the late-1990s).

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